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'Rowlands asked me to go from manager to ACT – I resigned'

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"Friends have told me I'm taking this personally, but it's hard not to after 45 years"
"Friends have told me I'm taking this personally, but it's hard not to after 45 years"

An anonymous former Rowlands branch manager explains how they have been affected by the multiple’s strategy to survive the funding cuts

I’ve been following C+D’s coverage of Rowlands’ new measures to help offset the government's funding cuts, and the claims ring true in the branch I used to work in.

I was a non-pharmacist manager working in a busy Rowlands branch. I’ve worked in this same shop for 45 years, having joined when I left school. Rowlands bought the branch over 10 years ago, and I’m proud to say that I have helped build up the branch to one that offers a good, efficient service, dispensing around 15,000 items a month.

When Rowlands announced its plans to review staff levels, they said they could no longer pay me for my non-pharmacist manager role, but would pay me an accuracy checking technician (ACT) salary if I agreed to work five days, instead of my current four.

I understand that Rowlands has to react to the funding cuts, and I was willing to give up some of my hours to help, but they wanted me to work more hours, for less money. I actually took some time off sick from the stress of it all.

I eventually resigned in May.

I’m very unhappy to have left a branch that I have loved for a number of years, and I was distraught when I first handed in my notice. I am 60 now and was thinking ‘what am I going to do?’. I think the way they have gone about this restructuring is unfair.

I am one of eight staff members from that branch to have left since the measures were announced, including medicines counter assistants, ACTs and dispensers. Four of the team have gone to an independent pharmacy down the road, and customers and patients will surely follow if service is affected.

Friends have told me I am taking this personally, and that the measures are happening across all Rowlands branches. But when you give 45 years of your life to one place, you do take it personally. It has really upset me.

“There is hope yet”

However, things are looking up for me. The doctors in the area sent me flowers when I left, and thanked me for the local relationships I have built over the years. I have had a few job offers in the area, so there is hope yet.

None of us can cope with the government funding cuts, but in a busy branch like ours, I worry what will happen to it in the future.

Rowlands would not make any further comment on the impact of its staff restructuring plan, beyond its original response.

Are you feeling the pressure of the funding cuts?

Have you noticed an increase in pressure at work as the funding cuts have started to 'bite'? Have you been asked to reduce your hours or increase the number of medicines use reviews? Or has a change of ownership affected your pharmacy?

Share your story with C+D by emailing us at this address with the subject "pharmacy pressures". We will respect all requests for anonymity.

Please include as much detail as possible. It would be helpful to include the relevant town or region.

 

You can search for the latest pharmacy vacancies on the C+D Jobs website

8 Comments
Question: 
How are the government funding cuts affecting your pharmacy and staff?

Julie Friday, Accuracy checking technician

I know exactly how you feel. I had worked for Boots for 33 years and have been in a similar position to you.

Val Kyrie, Community pharmacist

What a dreadful way to be treated - but you're certainly not the first to be steam-rollered by that company.  Profit and accountability to their parent company is all that matters to them. Why not try asking the local surgeries if they need an experienced medicines professional to help with their prescribing management? Good luck to you.

Sarah Smythe, Information Technology

You have my deepest sympathy , I know only too well how you must feel having been in a similar position myself . But hopefuly you will realize that you have made the right decision, life will only got better and better and believe me having nothing more to do with those twisted immoral multiple employers , of which they nearly all fall into that category, yes thats right, Boots Lloyds etc etc, you will see your future is bright and wished you had resigned earlier, as I do.   P.S. don't go back to pharmacy under any circumstances , its a toxic back biting profession nowadays. 

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

This company is in chaos at the moment. At branch level morale is rock bottom, I don't think I have seen so many angry people. The staffing situation was already bad, but with the changes that have been made it has gone critical in some branches. I do feel for all those who are caught up in this chaos, it is like a rudderless ship, absolutely no leadership. 

To be fair to this particular company, they are no worse than any of the others. All the chains care nothing for the years of hard work that any given employee may have provided. If you leave Rowlands where are you going to go? Lloyds? Boots? 

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The independent pharmacy down the road should snap you up. Rowlands would be toast.

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

what matters is the relationship you form with your colleagues and customers....the rest do take it personal ITS JUST BUISNESS...AND BUISNESS IS A [email protected]$£H

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I feel very sorry that you have been put through that experience, and we are all human and it would be natural to take a blow like that on a very personal level. That said, I hope that you had good representation to at least negotiate some more equitable resolution than that was given as a 'hobson's choice'. I don't know the full details, but pharmacy colleagues should do two things (1) join a union, and (2) get critical illness or redundancy cover insurance policy . Anyway for what it's worth. Good luck!

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

There are no prizes for loyalty. No doubt you never received proprtionate bonuses when their profits were on the up and up year on year(likely still are). But as soon as the Daily Mail mentions cuts you're in the office being told sacrifices have to be made. This game is about looking after number 1 and never forget it. Your 45 years services may as well be 450. It means nothing to them and neither did you.

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